American writer Luke Rhinehart is dead

He was the author of the bestseller The Man-die, cult-book, according to the consecrated expression, published in 1971 in the United States and in 1973 in France (Seuil, republished in 2019 at the Forges de Vulcain). Like his hero, he willingly played the key moments of his destiny with dice. His last move did not abolish chance. American writer Luke Rhinehart died on November 6 at his home in Canaan, upstate New York, has learned The world from its French publisher. He was going to be 88 years old.

Read also the review (1973): The “de-therapy”

The man was not called Rhinehart. It was a pseudonym he had borrowed from his star character, a deviant psychiatrist agitated by recurrent rape and murder urges. Real name George Powers Cockcroft, the son of an engineer – his father committed suicide when he was only 9 years old – was born in Albany, New York, on November 15, 1932. Very early on, he had liked to play. To overcome his sickly shyness and help himself decide in inextricable situations, but also for pure pleasure. Because, he repeated, “Play, fun, this is what human life should be”.

The Cockcroft method

This is how he elected his wife, Ann. Having seen two nurses coming out of their working day, he had left it to chance to designate one to him, the one to whom he would offer to take her home, before marrying her, in 1956. When we were surprised at his way of doing to live, Rhinehart retorted that it was the only one possible, and that “The spirit of seriousness was a major disease”, Alas chronic, of the human species.

After studying Zen and Sufism, and starting as a literature teacher on Long Island, Rhinehart-Cockcroft lived for a time as a hippie, first in Mexico, then on a boat with his wife and their three children: an experience that he will draw his Odyssey of the vagabond (Robert Laffont, 1984).

Read also the meeting (2018): “The spirit of seriousness is a disease”

It was in 1969 that, settled in Mallorca, in the Balearics, the future writer decided to finish his first novel, The Dice Man, The Dice Man. Ignored in its first American edition, the book was successful in Great Britain then in Sweden, Denmark and later in Spain. In total, it sold 2 million copies and became an important object of popular culture, that of rock in particular, where many personalities were inspired by the Cockroft method, which swears by a rigorous respect for random. Ironically, it wasn’t until late that Rhinehart discovered the extent of his success. For years, he lived cut off from everything. When he moved back to America, it was, like his more discreet compatriots, Pynchon or Salinger, by opting for the comfort of the incognito. “My neighbors don’t know that I am a writer, he confided in 2018 to the “World of books”. In the United States, I am George Cockroft. It is always Europeans who come to see me. “

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